When starting out on your path to a college degree you'll need to choose whether to go for an associate degree or a bachelor's degree. Although there are good arguments for going either way, there are some excellent reasons to consider targeting your associates first. For instance, earning your associate degree first gives you a sense of accomplishment and a diploma to hang on your wall while you continue working toward your bachelor's degree, and no matter what your long-term goal may be, going for an associates now can give you a great jump start.
Associate Degrees Explained
An associate degree is an academic degree normally awarded for completing two years of lower level studies. But, this doesn't mean you have to take two years to complete your degree.The three most common types of associate degrees are the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science. Each of these degrees has unique characteristics, requirements and limitations, but all are a great way to get started toward your education and professional goals.
- Associate of Arts (AA) degrees, like other two-year degrees, normally require a minimum 60 semester hours in lower level studies, with a large percentage in traditional arts and sciences, such as math, english, social science, history, and often require a foreign language. The AA can be more time consuming for a servicemember due to the greater requirements for traditional academic courses. However the AA can be your best option if you are considering a career in education.
- Associate of Science (AS) degrees normally require less arts and sciences, have no foreign language requirement, and allow a greater number of credits from free electives. An AS is often the fastest and most flexible route to a degree for military servicemember due to the decreased number of elective credits.
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS)degrees are normally professional in nature, like electronics, avionics, mechanics, etc. AAS degrees are often the easiest for military students to earn. But, due to the professional specialty focus, the AAS can be limiting when it comes to pursuing higher levels of education later.
3 Reasons to Consider an Associate Degree
1. Flexibility - AA and AS degrees do not require you to determine a major, and in fact a degree in liberal arts will give you the flexibility to postpone your decision until later when you have a better idea of what you want to focus on.
2. Saves Time and Money - An AS degree will allow you to apply a greater number of credits from your military experience. In fact if you have four or more years of service and have taken and passed the 5 General CLEP exams, you may find that you are just a few credits shy of earning your degree.
3. Increase Your Income - Like any college degree, an associate degree will open doors to higher income and promotions. Many of the military services tie college credits to their advancement and promotion systems. And most of the services require the same to apply for enlisted to officer programs like OCS and OTS.If you are looking for a way to jump your start your education goals - that won't waste your time and money - then pursuing your associates degree first may be right for you.
Next Step Remember, the military has a stake in your education too. You should contact your ESO or Navy College Representative before you make your final decision. They can get you started taking your CLEP exams and help you review your transcripts before you start taking classes.
There are several schools that work with the military education systems and students to provide a path to an associate degree.